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The Count of Monte Cristo
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Archives > Chapters 77 - 118 (June 2018

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message 1: by Kelly_Hunsaker_reads (last edited Mar 28, 2018 07:06PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR JUNE:

1. In the last third of the novel Dantes exacts his revenge. He has perfectly set up the downfall of all of his enemies. How?

2. Is he happy at the end of the novel? When does he decide to stop taking revenge on his enemies, and why does he do so?

3. Who are the happiest characters at the end of this novel? Why are they happy?

4. Who is the true victim of the novel?

5. Should the Count and Mercédès have tried to renew their love at the end of the novel?

6. Do you feel hopeful upon reading the last words of this story?

7. What were the main themes/motifs/symbols of the book? And do you have any favorite quotes?


message 2: by Diane (last edited Apr 15, 2018 05:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane  | 2042 comments ******SPOILERS!!! PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!!!!******


1. In Chapter 39 Albert promises to introduce the Count into Parisien society. By Chapter 42 he is introduced to Ferdnand and Mercedes? Do they know him as Dantes? What are their reactions to him.

Fernand does not seem to recognize him and takes an instant liking to him in response to his flattery. Mercedes appears to recognize Dantes and acts as if she has seen a ghost. She is suspicious of him and asks Albert a lot of questions about his identity and character and warns him to be wary.

2. One of the first people the Count meets at Albert's house is Maximilien Morrel. Why is this encounter important? What emotions does it invoke in Dantes?

He observes how the young Morrel is repaying the good deeds bestowed upon his father by doing good unto others, and notes his virtue and goodness of character. He probably sees his old self in him or what he would have become had he not been imprisoned.

3. The Count purchases a summer home where he meets its steward Bertuccio, who delivers a long and complex monologue, telling the story of Abbe Busoni/Caderousse/Villefort. Dantes would know most of this story (as he is both the count and the abbe') so why does he force Bertuccio to tell the story? Does Dumas have a reason for telling the story through dialogue rather than narration?

I think he has Bertuccio retell the story to confirm that he is an honest man that can be trusted. He then becomes the Count's "right hand man". I think by telling the story through dialogue rather than narration makes it more personal and shows the character of Bertuccio.

4. In Chapters 47 - 53, the Count hatches a plan to ingratiate himself to the Danglars and Villefort families. How is Villefort described in these chapters? What does he symbolize?

He is described as a living statue of the law. In the first conversation between him and the count, they seem to challenge each other. Villefort does not instantly like him as quickly as Fernand did. In the beginning of the book, their lives were somewhat parallel. Both were young, ready to marry, hardworking, and had good job prospects. Villefort’s selfish decision changed all of that. I think he symbolizes injustice, or injustice in the disguise of justice. Perhaps he represents the flawed justice of humans in contrast to the divine justice of God.

5. These chapters also show us how Dantes has changed. How does he react to emotions -- positive and negative?

He shows little outward emotion until (view spoiler)

6. In Chapters 54 - 62 Dantes takes his revenge upon Danglars. What is his punishment and why?

Financial ruin to punish him for his greed. He misleads him into taking some wrong investments, causing him to lose his fortune. He also borrows most of what is left of Danglars money so he is unable to pay his financial obligations to the hospital. He also misleads Danglars into wanting Cavalcanti as his son-in-law only because he had the appearance of being rich. (view spoiler).

7. During the dinner at the Count's home, Bertuccio is surprised to see two different people? Who are they and why is he surprised?

Madame Danglars and Villefort. They were both the lovers he saw in the home many years ago and the parents of the infant he rescued. He was further surprised because he thought he had killed Villefort all those years ago. He is also surprised to see his adopted nephew Benedetto in disguise as the young Cavalcanti.

8. After attending the Count's dinner party, who does Danglars wish his daughter to marry?

Andrea Cavalcanti (Benedetto in disguise).

9. In the Chapters 68 - 76 we see the Count begin to take his revenge on Villefort. How? As Mdme. Villefort begins to commit murders, what is this a reflection of?

The count plans to ruin Villefort’s pride in his reputation. He does this by giving a vial of elixir/poison to Madame Villefort, who proceeds to use it to murder members of her family. (view spoiler) Also, the news about how he had an illegitimate son during an affair and attempted to murder him leaks out. The murders committed by his wife are most likely a reflection of the people unjustly sentenced to death by Villefort.

1. In the last third of the novel Dantes exacts his revenge. He has perfectly set up the downfall of all of his enemies. How?

He has arranged it so that they all destroy each other. He does not need to physically punish them. Once his plan is in place he is basically hands-off and watches them fall like dominoes.

2. Is he happy at the end of the novel? When does he decide to stop taking revenge on his enemies, and why does he do so?

No. He realizes that vengeance does not bring happiness. This is further emphasized when he sees how innocent people are also adversely affected by his revenge. Once Villefort’s son died, he stopped. He had by that point accomplished what he had set out to do but it was beginning to go further than he intended.

3. Who are the happiest characters at the end of this novel? Why are they happy?

Maximillian and Valentine. They were re-united, in love, and faced a brilliant future. Their story is almost a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending.

4. Who is the true victim of the novel?

Edouard is probably the truest victim, as he was an innocent who lost his life. Mercedes was also the true victim because she suffered horribly due to a non-malicious decision on her part to marry Fernand. The children of the accomplices were victims in that they all suffered in various ways as a result of the Count’s vengeance. Even Valentine, who had one of the happiest endings lost most of her family members.

5. Should the Count and Mercédès have tried to renew their love at the end of the novel?

I desperately wanted this to happen, even though I knew that it was probably not. I think that this was part of her punishment (which I didn’t find very fair). It was obvious that she still loved him. I wonder if she had asked him to reconcile (when he asked her what she wanted) if he would have assented. Instead, as in many works of fiction (and in real life), he went for the younger woman. I am not keen on how he went from a father figure to Haydee to lover. I won’t go on about this, just saying..

6. Do you feel hopeful upon reading the last words of this story?

Not as much as I would have thought. I feel hopeful for Valentine and Maximillian, but I am not sure about the Count. I am not very hopeful for most of the remaining characters.

7. What were the main themes/motifs/symbols of the book? And do you have any favorite quotes?

Themes:
**Revenge, of course, is the biggest theme. It is pervasive in the novel.
**Judgment/Justice/Injustice – that judgment is both divine and imparted by humans and how human justice has its limits. The Count’s justice often runs a fine line between the two.
**How people can change, good or bad (but in this case, mostly for the worst).
**How goodness is always rewarded and that good things come to those who wait.
**How there is no escape from the consequences of our actions and how misdeeds are always ultimately punished.
**God’s will vs. free will and self-determination.
**How people are often misguided by greed, ambition, desire, and hatred.
**Manipulation – many people were manipulated for the gains of others or by the count as a means of exacting his revenge.
**Happiness vs. Satisfaction: how satisfaction does not necessarily bring one happiness.
**How happiness is connected to pain and suffering. According to the Count, in order to experience true happiness one must first experience deep misfortune. Not so sure about this one.
**Alienation: How devastating alienation from or loss of one's loved ones was to Dantes and to other characters in the book.
**Power: Various things result in power, such as money, knowledge, influence, authority. Dantes’s enemies have gained power as a result of his demise. He uses power in the form of wealth and knowledge to get closer to them.

Motifs:
**The importance of names. Aliases and name changes of characters and how the characters changed with their new identities or took on a new persona. Several characters in the book took on a new title or assumed a new identity at some point (ex. Dantes, Fernand & Mercedes, Benedetto, Eugenie, Danglars). Also, Benedetto never truly had a name due to his illegitimacy. Dantes and other prisoners were assigned a number in place of their names. Villefort rejects his father’s name to dissociate with his political views. Others assume the title of Count or Baron. Dantes uses several identities to either get close to his enemies or reward loyalty. It also shows how he has lost his true identity.
**Suicide and murder. Several characters either killed themselves (Fernand, Mme. Villefort), threatened to kill themselves (Dantes, Mercedes, Maximillian, etc.) or took the lives of another person (Calderousse, Benedetto, etc.), condemned others to death (Villefort) or attempted to kill another person (Villefort, Bertuccio). Suicide is often seen as an honorable or redeeming act, where murder is a dishonorable act.
**Politics. Bonapartist vs. Royalist. The sympathetic characters tended to be Bonapartists. The negative characters tended to be associated with Royalism in some way.

Symbols: The book was very symbolic and I am sure there are many symbols I overlooked.
**Elixirs, potions, and poisons were a common symbol, for both good and for bad, depending on how they were used and their purpose. The potion could either bring someone back from the brink of death or kill them. It was, however, unable to bring people back from the dead (as in Edouard’s case).
**The red purse: it was used as a way to deliver rewards or associated with acts of generosity. Its appearance was connected with good deeds.
**The Island of Monte Cristo. The name (Mountain of Christ) is symbolic of Mount Calvary where Christ was crucified. The cave is connected with Christ’s resurrection, as in the Bible. It is a place of “miracles”. Much like Christ, the Count promises to return one day.
**The Ocean/Sea: symbolizes rebirth, probably connected to baptism. It is also an escape: escape from prison, escape from other things in the end.

Quotes:
"Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss."

“I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.”

“All human wisdom is contained in these two words - Wait and Hope”

“There are two ways of seeing: with the body and with the soul. The body's sight can sometimes forget, but the soul remembers forever.”



message 3: by Kelly_Hunsaker_reads (last edited Apr 15, 2018 08:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments It looks like you finished! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wanted the reunion too... and really disliked his new choice. I give it a little more patience than I would if it were written today though.


Kristel (kristelh) | 4107 comments Mod
I've finished.

1. Dante puts things in place such that each character's own characteristics lead to his personal ruin.

2. Dante is not happy. Revenge does not lead to happiness. Revenge gave purpose to life but now he has achieved it, he is left with the sorrows of his life.

3. The happiest people are Maximillian and Valentine but only until they are hurt by the side effects of Dante's revenge, then they are unhappy too. In the very end they can be happy but had to go through great sorrow to achieve happiness which Dante also orchestrated.

4. I think it is sad that Mercedes suffered but she made her decision and she accepted the ramifications. I did not like her son much because I think the whole, I got to kill the count cause he ruined my (father's) reputation was stupid when it was true. If it was not true then I could see it. In the end, he accepted the truth and humbled himself. I also think the poor brother of Valentine was a true victim, very sad for a mother to kill her own son.

5. I would like to know why the author chose not to reunite Mercedes and Dantes. It would seem logical. But the point is too much time and circumstances probably would cause a reunification not be the best outcome.

6. It was hopeful in the way that riding off in the sunset is. It is kind of a let down.

7. Revenge was the main theme. It was an uncomfortable theme for me. I thought I would really like this book but at some points, was really hating it. It also had themes of providence and letting/trusting that things will work out for good. Only through great suffering can one appreciate life and love and develop hope.

I really like what Diane has said about Motifs and identity.

Things I found surprising; the use of opium type drugs. The slight reference to Lesbian relationship. It also has slavery with the black, mute man and the daughter of an Arab in his possession. The author was mixed race himself and not sure why he chose to have his character have a black slave.

Love the symbol of the island of Monte Cristo (Mountain of Christ) Rebirth, new life.


I don't have any quotes as I did listen mostly, I have audio and Nook edition of this book. My audio was read by John Lee. I liked listening to the story and hearing the names pronounced.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments Kristel wrote: "I've finished.

1. Dante puts things in place such that each character's own characteristics lead to his personal ruin.

2. Dante is not happy. Revenge does not lead to happiness. Revenge gave pu..."


I listened to that version also. John Lee was really good.


message 6: by Pip (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pip | 1409 comments 1. Caderousse had been given a chance, but his greed was his downfall. First he took the diamond and killed the jeweller and then he tried to blackmail Benedetto and burgle the Count and got murdered by Benedetto. Note the Count set it up but he did not actually kill him in person. Danglars was avaricious and was tempted into poor investments which ruined him. He lost everything: his money, his position in society and his family (which didn't seem to worry him too much) but he actually survived when the Count began to realise that he had gone too far. Villefort saw himself as an upright and strict enforcer of the law but he tried to murder his unwanted baby and concealed that deaths in his own family were murders. When he was exposed he went mad. Fernand Montego, the Count de Morcef was a celebrated soldier. The Count exposed that he had actually betrayed an ally for money and so he blows his own brains out.
2. There are multiple occasions when the Count talks about Providence and he sees himself as providential until the end, when he has a crisis and decides that he has gone too far. So he spares Danglars, although he ruins him financially.
3. Maximillian and Valentine, because Valentine is alive and they can, presumably, live happy ever after. Probably also Eugenie and her lover Louise.
4. Edmond. He was incarcerated for 14 years despite being innocent, then he spent the rest of his life plotting revenge. When he took it he realised that it was not quite as satisfying as he had anticipated and there was a lot of collateral damage. (I was sorry for the Saint-Merans)
5. In the end Edmond could not forgive Mercedes for not remaining faithful to him. He had this God complex and got used to manipulating everyone so it seems apt that he thought he could find happiness with a slave.
6. Wait and hope are not all that much uplifting!
7. Revenge! and perseverance in the obtaining of it.
Human frailties and how they can be disastrous.
Favourite quotes:

"A self-conscious stylist would say that society receptions are a bed of that attracts capricious butterflies, hungry bees and buzzing hornets" Isn't that a wonderful put-down of society?
..."like every man who is full of ulterior motives, he was preoccupied with finding his own train of thought in the speaker's ideas"
"As always, it was the oldest women who were most heavily adorned and the ugliest who were most determined to make an exhibition of themselves"


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments "like every man who is full of ulterior motives, he was preoccupied with finding his own train of thought in the speaker's ideas"

I love this! We all do this too often.


Hilde (hilded) | 349 comments 1. In the last third of the novel Dantes exacts his revenge. He has perfectly set up the downfall of all of his enemies. How?

Dantes spend many years planning and plotting his revenge, to be able to hurt the people he wanted to take revenge on in the most hurtful way. He used his position to lure himself into the circle of his enemies and gain their trust. Then he plotted the events to make the characters destroy themselves without him being in the visible front row of their downfall, playing on their characteristics, which basically ruined them all in turn.

2. Is he happy at the end of the novel? When does he decide to stop taking revenge on his enemies, and why does he do so?

I don’t think Dantes is happy in the end of the novel, as he finally understands that vengeance is no guarantee for happiness, and that his actions led to the downfall of innocent people as well which was not his intention.

3. Who are the happiest characters at the end of this novel? Why are they happy?

I think Maximillian and Valentine are the happiest characters in the end of the novel, finally being able to be together with a bright future ahead of them. But this was first after suffering a great deal from the aftermath of Dantes actions.

Like Diane said, I also thought of their reunion as a retelling of Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending :)

4. Who is the true victim of the novel?

Basically all of them in one way or another. Of course, the innocents in the story, like Edouard (son of Valentine) was definitely a true victim. Mercedes did not get a very happy ending either. But they all suffered, Dantes himself as well.

5. Should the Count and Mercédès have tried to renew their love at the end of the novel?

Yes! I was a bit sad that this did not happen.

6. Do you feel hopeful upon reading the last words of this story?

Not really, except for Maxmillian and Valentine.

7. What were the main themes/motifs/symbols of the book? And do you have any favorite quotes?

Revenge, injustice and human weakness.

With regards to my favorite quote, I read the book in Norwegian, so not much point in sharing ;)

I found a couple in English that were interesting though;

“Believe me, to seek a quarrel with a man is a bad method of pleasing the woman who loves that man.”

“Danglars was one of those men born with a pen behind the ear, and an inkstand in place of a heart.”

"There is neither happiness nor unhappiness in this world; there is only the comparison of one state with another. Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss. It is necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.....the sum of all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: Wait and Hope."



Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments The more I think about it the more I feel Dantes is the biggest loser in the end. He lost himself to his own need for revenge. And he ended up with nothing/noone.


Diane Zwang | 1246 comments Mod
I finally finished! It was quite the tomb for me but overall I liked the book and gave it 4/5 stars.

1. Financial ruin, social ruin.

2. Danglers repented.

3. Valentine and Morrel. Dantes and Haidee.

4. Interesting question. It is easy to say Dantes but I think some of the dead characters are true victims.

5. It would be a cliché for them to end up together.

6. Do you feel hopeful upon reading the last words of this story?
Yes.

7. “In politics, my dear fellow, you know, as well as I do, there are no men, but ideas – no feelings, but interests; in politics we do not kill a man, we only remove an obstacle, that is all.”

“It is the way of weakened minds to see everything through a black cloud. The soul forms its own horizons; your soul is darkened, and consequently the sky of the future appears stormy and unpromising.”

“I am he whom you sold and dishonored – I am he whose betrothed you prostituted – I am he upon whom you trampled that you might raise yourself to fortune – I am he whose father you condemned to die of hunger – I am he whom you also condemned to starvation, and who yet forgives you, because he hopes to be forgiven – I am Edmond Dantes!”

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of living.”


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments Diane wrote: "I finally finished! It was quite the tomb for me but overall I liked the book and gave it 4/5 stars.


That quote about politics is so true.


message 12: by Gail (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gail (gailifer) | 1381 comments I finished. I really loved the last third! Warning - spoilers below.

1. In the last third of the novel Dantes exacts his revenge. He has perfectly set up the downfall of all of his enemies. How?

By using their own weaknesses against them. Calderouse and Danglers by their greed, Villefort by his pride. If Villefort had asked for help from the police for the poisoning of his parents his life may not have unraveled but because he could not live with the dishonor of an investigation in his own house everything comes undone. (Of course having an affair and the burying of a baby that was still alive didn't help)

2. Is he happy at the end of the novel? When does he decide to stop taking revenge on his enemies, and why does he do so?

Dantes is satisfied to a certain extent that he has acted as God's hand to bring about justice. However, he also realized that some innocent people got caught up in his revenge schemes. These people he did not intend to hurt and some people he intended to hurt he ultimately likes a great deal and doesn't want to visit the sins of the father on the son. Ultimately I got the sense that his whole life had been given over to revenge and now he was left with very little emotional core. However he suspects that he is being given a second chance at life in loving Haidee.

3. Who are the happiest characters at the end of this novel? Why are they happy?

Maximillian and Valentine are happy to be together but they went through true horrors to get there and it can not be a total happiness with all the death and madness surrounding them. Eugenie and Louise may, in fact be happy together.

4. Who is the true victim of the novel?
I would have to say that almost everyone in the novel is a victim at some level or another. Certainly Dantes himself. Valentine's brother was a true victim. Mercedes comes to mind as a still living character who was crushed by circumstances largely not in her control. Her crime was to get married to a man she did not love and that seems a smaller crime than many others portrayed. She does have a son to balance out the pain and loss however.

5. Should the Count and Mercédès have tried to renew their love at the end of the novel?

I think the author did a wonderful job of bringing them together and their realizing that their love may still burn within them but can not be acted upon. They give each other what they can, some tiny piece of forgiveness and Dantes gives Mercedes her son's life. Together, I could not see how they could live happily ever after as there would be too much resentment.

6. Do you feel hopeful upon reading the last words of this story?
No, not really and yet I think that "wait and hope" are words that drive much of our lives.

7. What were the main themes/motifs/symbols of the book? And do you have any favorite quotes?

“God is merciful to all, as he has been to you; he is first a father, then a judge.”

“For all evils there are two remedies - time and silence.”

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